When armed officers from a California sheriff’s department took to the streets of Santa Monica on Sunday, Jo’Artis "Big Mijo" Ratti krumped.
He twisted his body in exaggerated movements in an expressive dance form Ratti says is based around “feeling and emotion.” The dance style, krumping, was created in Los Angeles in the 2000s. Ratti, 35, says he uses it as a peaceful way to protest instead of looting and vandalizing — something he said he used to do.
The video went viral on Twitter with nearly 5 million views since Monday.
Ratti’s video is one of several social media posts going viral featuring protesters dancing and singing in the streets amid nationwide protests against police violence. The protests began in response to the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, two Black people killed by police. The peaceful protests began about a week ago, but have since been marred by looting, vandalism, and more police brutality. But throughout all the chaos, some protesters are finding their happy places.
In Oakland, an ABC News helicopter captured more than 100 protesters doing the electric slide. Sulaiman Hyatt, 39, had brought a speaker on his light blue cargo bike originally to amplify protest chants. But after hours of the sit-in, protesters asked Hyatt to play music.
He said the sit-in protesters were dancing to Maze featuring Frankie Beverly’s 1981 hit, “Before I Let Go.” “Folks weren’t dancing for the sake of dancing.”
In Nebraska, protesters did a different line dance. Police officers joined in.
The Lincoln Nebraska Police Department announced a “Hold Cops Accountable Agreement” initiative, where residents can express their complaints with the police department in a monthly town hall. After the meeting, police officers and community leaders danced to the "Cupid Shuffle."
In New Jersey, a group of about 30 protesters stopped at a Newark intersection to do the "Cupid Shuffle" dance. Justin Cedeno, 23, who recorded the scene, said people brought speakers while some cars road along the protest route playing Tupac, N.W.A, and A Tribe Called Quest. But when someone played Cupid’s song “that’s when everyone came together and started dancing.”
The video now has nearly 13 million views.
Hyatt, from Oakland, said the dancing brought some much-needed levity during a hard time.
“The purpose of dancing and the purpose of actually coming together to claim space was to have a moment of joy in this time of pain — intense pain,” Hyatt told BuzzFeed News.